Let me tell you something not-so secret: I’m not really a Cha-Cha person. Up until I had to learn a routine for the competition last month, I would actively avoid doing it. The same goes for Tango. Tango intrigues me, but back when I started all this, I got the basics of Tango from three different people, and they all focused on different things, and it has never really coalesced into a functional thing for me.
But Cha-Cha… I managed to work with my dance partner to get our routine down so that it looked passable. And we spent a lot of time practicing it to make sure we had the right chasse at the right point with the right foot. After feeling passable with it, we decided that it would be helpful to go to the Cha-Cha group class they were offering this month on Tuesdays. So last night, that’s where we ended up together.
As we walked in, Lord Fabulous caught sight of us, stopped in the middle of the newcomer class he was teaching, and shouted “Happy Danciversary!” I was pretty surprised he remembered. It was just a year ago this week that this whole crazy journey started, when I met Sir Steven for the first time.
My dance partner and I went off to the back corner to change our shoes and practice some of the things we were working on for East-Coast Swing. The newcomer class was finishing up, and they were going over the basics of Mambo. When Lord Fabulous put on a Lou Bega number, my dance partner asked me if I wanted to do our Mambo routine we learned for the competition quick. So we were off in the corner, running through the routine, without worrying about being precise, and just laughing about things. Lord Fabulous comes over while Lady Q was demonstrating things to the class and wished me a much more subdued anniversary congratulations, and asked us if we would be willing to do our routine in front of all the newcomers as their class wrapped up. My dance partner and I exchanged looks, and agreed to it.
As the class is wrapping up, Lord Fabulous makes an announcement to all of them, explaining to them that it had been a year of learning for me, and asked each of us to explain to the class what had gotten us started, what we enjoyed most… questions that I’m sure were meant to show the newcomers that sticking with the studio means something. I let my dance partner talk the most, because no one really wants to hear from a guy when there is a good looking woman standing there. Then they turned up the same Lou Bega song that started this whole ordeal and we ran through our routine for a few minutes, and then it was over.
Go team, right?
The whole experience has gotten me to reflect on the last year though. I remember starting this ordeal, going to the newcomer classes and learning the basic forms of everything. There were all those personal lessons where Sir Steven would put on a song and ask what dance would be done to the music playing (and at first, the answer was always Hustle, because it always seemed like it would work). Now, I compare what we put together for our routines, even for something like the Cha-Cha routine that I admitted earlier I wasn’t fond of, against the basic steps that those newcomers in class last night were learning – the same steps I learned a year ago when I started; if I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t think they were the same dances. It makes me wonder if I will do the same thing next year. If I manage to stick with it, will the things I can do then look nothing like what I am learning to do now? Will I manage to unlock all of the Bronze III techniques and start on Bronze IV things this year? Will my dance partner and I achieve a level noteworthy enough that the royalty of the kingdom starts to know our name?
There is a small group of us from the Land of the Loft that has kind of bonded together, mostly due to almost all of us being in the last competition. Last Friday, after the social dance, we all took off together and went to get ice cream nearby. It’s a very strange group to see from the outside, if you didn’t know any more about us. There are a couple of girls still in their teens, a few of us who are around 30, and one couple who is somewhere in their 60s. In a way, it’s nice to spend time with other people who have the same hobby, because then they don’t think you are weird for spending so much time doing something. I don’t know if the other lands in the Dance Kingdom spend time together like we do. During the last couple of dance shows, we were the only group that was standing together taking pictures. The group shots from the competition ended up on Facebook so that everyone can see them.
The thing my dance partner and I talked about was trying to include others in the group, so new people don’t feel so intimidated by all of us. There are a few men that I know several of the women want to exclude specifically, because they rub them the wrong way, but other than that pre-identified group there may be some outreach efforts. We are going to be sort-of like dance ambassadors, as my dance partner coined. If we make friends with newcomers, and make them feel like they have friends at the studio, they will be more likely to stick around longer. A lot of people that start dancing drop out after a month or two, so we will identify people and hopefully give them a reason to stay, other than learning dancing for dancing’s sake.
Especially single men. They are in short supply, and it would be a great help to make them want to come to class. Trust me, I could use some help some nights.